Impeachment Column Mail Call

Zephyr asks:

You wrote, “More than a year after the Supreme Court decided in Rasul v. Bush that the nearly 600 Muslim men and young boys being held incommunicado at Guantánamo Bay were entitled to have their cases heard by U.S. courts, they remain in cold storage–no lawyers, no court dates. The Bush Administration simply ignored the ruling.”

Is there an agency of the government whose function it is to enforce Supreme Court decisions?

Strictly speaking, the US Department of Justice is charged with that function. On a practical level, however, it is directly overseen by and the Attorney General receives orders from the White House. When there’s a clash between the executive and legislative branches of this sort, therefore, the Supreme Court’s decisions can–as in Rasul–simply be ignored.

Steve writes:

I couldn’t agree less on the utility of the Constitution to deal with Bush and his acolytes. For one thing, the Constitution gives the president no immunity to the criminal laws. One courageous prosecutor has the means under the Constitution to bring down an entire government. That none is doing so is simply a tribute to the boldness and criminal expertise of our governors.
The Nixon case is unfortunate because Nixon stayed out of jail while his aides did time. It set a pretty bad precedent, but at least we removed Nixon from office. The Clinton case is even worse because it set a precedent that lying is not a serious enough offense to warrant removal from office. Bush is taking liberal advantage of the Clinton doctrine.
Despite all this, Bush could be called to answer in criminal court, especially if his aides begin to sense that they’re in jeopardy. Ultimately, a criminal complaint would force him out of office. The Constitution has what it takes to remove him, if the personnel responsible for enforcement haven’t yet manifested the fortitude to act.

And we may have that prosecutor in the form of Mr. Fitzgerald. I hope that he requests an extension of his mandate so he can pursue criminal charges, up to and including treason, against both former Texas Governor Bush and Mr. Cheney. Still, this hardly seems like a system that has worked very well so far. Furthermore, there are no criminal statutes against lying to the people–a crime that ought to be punished by removal from office.

Richard writes:

Ted,Thanks for your article.

Perhaps I misinterpreted the substance of your piece but haven’t you overlooked those having face the voters and run for reelection in 2006? Standing behind an increasing unpopular president will prove a political liability for many. I think the Harriet Miers “revolt” in Republican ranks may provide further evidence of this possibility even though those on that side feel she is too “liberal.” In order for Clinton to be impeached several Democrats were forced to go against party and back the inquiry, such as Dianne Feinstein. For this I hold out hope. And realistically, a reawakened Republican party and congress will have to occur even with a democrat president in order to set right the nation. The sooner the better.

One can hope. This would be an excellent example of the system working as it should or, in the words of one unaware pundit a few months ago, pandering to the voters–which is, of course, what elected officials are supposed to do every day, not just during election years. Still, many–too many–officials might be able to distance themselves from Bush without going so far as to vote for his removal from the office his lies and thievery have repeatedly dishonored.
Getting Clinton’s jizz out of the Oval Office was one thing, but how long will it take to mop up the blood of 160,000 dead?

Lee writes from Canada:

Thanks for “Why Bush is Unimpeachable”, which I saw on Common Dreams.
The US Constitution is pretty much a dead letter these days, and it’s not just because of Bush.
The power of Congress to declare war became a dead letter when LBJ used the Tonkin Gulf Resolution to ramp up a huge war involving millions of Americans. Since then, every president has felt free to send US troops hither and yon without worrying about Congress, especially if he can get some US troops killed. Once that happens, Congress and most other Americans want to “stay the course” and avoid “talking about the past” – until several years of failure cause “malaise” to show up in the polls.
Impeachment? It’s either an impossibility (Johnson, 1867) or a sick game (Clinton, 1998). The president has become a king, with all the sacredness of royalty and all the political power of a prime minister. I’m Canadian. I don’t even remember the name of Prime Minister Paul Martin’s wife. But Laura Bush is America’s queen, with a major role in selling her husband’s policies. Republic? – fuhgeddaboutit. You’ve got an elective, but not a constitutional monarchy.
Too many people look for similarities between today’s America and Nazi Germany. The real similarity is with Fascist Italy: the constitutional forms were hollow but continued a ghostly existence; the dictatorship developed over several years, and the nature of the regime was vicious and contemptible, not overpoweringly evil.
Eventually it took a disastrous defeat in WWII to rouse the king to fire Mussolini and arrest him. What will it take to rouse Congress to revive the Republic and get rid of the contemptible regime that has spat on the constitution and perverted the Republic while saluting the flag that “stands for” it?

Very articulate. That’s what learning to write outside of the American educational system will do.

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